BelongingJun 01, 2023
While wedding dress shopping with my daughter this week and preparing to welcome my new son-in-law into our family, I’ve been thinking a lot about belonging - what it means to belong and how we create the feeling of belonging in our lives.
The interesting thing about belonging is that it is both a circumstance and a feeling. When my daughter gets married, it is a fact that she now belongs in her new husband’s family.
But the feeling of belonging is something entirely different.
Too many of us wait for something to happen so that we feel like we belong. We think that somehow, the circumstance or a choice that somebody else makes will cause us to feel like we belong. If this is the case, we might have to wait a really long time.
Lucky for us, it doesn't work that way. We create our own belonging inside our own minds and hearts.
Belonging In a Group
Belonging in a group is a matter of fact. When you sign up for a class, join a gym or move to a new neighborhood, you now belong. You are a member.
When you also want to feel like you belong, it’s easy to think thoughts like, “If people were a little more welcoming…If people included me…then it might be easier to feel like I belong.”
But you can feel that belonging no matter how anyone else acts. Creating that feeling is your job, not theirs.
Start with the facts. What is the circumstance that shows you belong on the most basic level?
The first thought to help you create a feeling of belonging is a simple as, “I belong here.” Practice the thought and make your brain look for evidence that you do belong.
A few other simple thoughts to try:
- When you feel like no one else in the group is like you…”I belong here because there’s no one here like me. They need me here to fill that space.”
- When you’re wondering if there’s a place for you in the group…”They belong with me. Everyone has a place with me.”
Belonging In an Identity
A client of mine was recently invited to be in an art show. She was feeling insecure and thinking that her art would be hanging between two “real” artists. She felt like she didn’t belong, that she couldn’t claim the identity of “artist”.
Have you been in a situation where you felt like you were faking it, and everyone else was the real deal? That’s what I mean by belonging in an identity.
We think there will be a moment when we “arrive”. We think that if we could just be better or learn more or accomplish more, that we’ll finally feel like we are this thing that we claim to be.
Whether it's artist, coach, athlete, wife or whatever the identity is that you want to take on, belonging to that identity isn't a matter of time, education, experience, proficiency or accomplishment. It's a matter of mindset.
Believing comes first (and also in the middle and the end). You’ll always be nurturing that belief, and it is what will allow you to show up and take the actions that create what you want.
How are you already this thing that you want to be?
Belonging In Your Dreams
I find that the number one thought that comes up for people when they want to do something that they have never done before is, “Who do you think you are?”
This thought stops us so many times. We think we’re not allowed to have or create our dreams.
The first step to creating anything new in your life is believing that you belong to that dream and that you belong in it.
You are a human and a child of God. You are alive and here on this earth in a body that can act. That's the circumstance that qualifies you for any dream that you want.
Your choices and your actions determine whether or not you can have it. And you can’t take action and keep going through the hard parts unless you believe that your dream belongs to you and is available to you.
When your brain tries to tell you, “I guess this is just for someone else because it isn’t working the way it’s supposed to,” I want you to know that is a lie.
It's not that it belongs to someone else. It's just that you haven't created it for yourself yet.
As long as you keep choosing your dream and making the choices to create it, it is still a part of your possibility. And you still belong to that dream.
Whether it’s in a group, an identity or your own dream, stop telling yourself that you're different and that you don't belong.
Tell yourself the truth. You belong in anything you decide you belong in. And that is always 100% up to you.
- How to create a feeling of belonging for yourself
- Why feeling inferior can hurt our sense of belonging
- Simple thought shifts for when you feel like you don’t fit in
- How to stay married to your dreams
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